I’ve just got back from Spain & Portugal!
And even though during that period of time, a most horrific event occurred, I’m not going to dwell on it any longer than to say, don’t be scared to travel abroad, don’t let fear take control. Just live the life you want!
A few weeks ago, I told you that I would be going to England and Spain and Portugal. And I did!
I went to my Master of Arts Graduation Ceremony which was awesome and because I needed to work off all the champagne that we drank, I also went on a little hike to the English countryside. In Cheshire!
I know Spain quite well.
I usually prefer Barcelona but this time I decided to go to Madrid and Seville and take the family with me.
It’s been over thirteen (13) years since I last went to Madrid and after last years’ nightmare experience, it was clearly time to go back again.
In going to destinations, I always like to call upon locals or expat locals, to give the low-down, and show us around.
In Madrid, we had the opportunity to go on a food walking tour and in Seville, we went along with my American blogger friend – KemKem from Next Bite of Life – and her Italian husband.
A WALKING TOUR? AGAIN!?!
I’m a walker.
I absolutely love walking.
Walking around is a brilliant way to see where you are, establish your bearings and get to grips with your surroundings.
I had gone on the internet looking for a tour that would be informative and at the same time local and found SANDEMANs NEW Europe free walking tours. This company runs tours in Tel Aviv, New York, and most European capital cities. In fact, I have taken the Berlin walking tour myself!
Yep! Even though, I live in Berlin, I love taking a walking tour so that I can keep up to date with new buildings and infrastructure.
The truth is, most people have absolutely no idea of their own city. It just makes logical sense!
In economic times, finding a way to cut costs is all the rage, and you know how much I love walking tours especially free tours, but sometimes I go on intriguing tours too, and I’ve even written a few of my own!
Here they all are:
- Bali: The beginner’s guide to going up a volcano: because going up a volcano isn’t for everyone!
- Prague: 4 Days in Prague – 40 Things to Do!
- Bristol: 48 hours in Bristol – 48 things to do!
- Bangkok: 3 days in Bangkok: A walking tour isn’t what you think!
- Chiang Mai: Thai food is going to kill you: Eat it or die!
- London: How to Spend 48 Hours in London – 6 Easy Ways!
- Barcelona: 10 reasons to go to Barcelona – And it’s not only for tapas and sangria, but you know, I’ll take it anyway!
- Edinburgh: The bloody streets of Scotland.
- Inverness: Oh, but the Highlands are bonny!
- Amsterdam: I went to a sex-show in the city of red lights and thin canals: That’s right. 48 hours in Amsterdam!!
- Riga: Gosh! Riga in Latvia is gorgeous: 10 reasons to go there right now!
- Warsaw: Don’t just stand there – 23 Reasons to Do It in Warsaw!
- Budapest: It’s a classical city of awe! 10 amazing ways to see it!
- Berlin: If you’re looking to make a change: Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a family. Choose an alternative walking tour in Berlin!
- Berlin: An introduction to the international kitchen of Berlin. Go on. You know you want to. Go on. Go eat the world!
- Berlin / Brandenburg: The astonishing rivers and lakes of Berlin and Brandenburg: 10 reasons why you should!
- Berlin: How to be a savvy travel blogger with 10 tips to help you prepare, and find your way around! – ITB Berlin.
- Berlin: How to spend 48 hours in Berlin – DAY ONE – #bestofBerlin.
- Berlin: How to spend 48 hours in Berlin – DAY TWO and WIN 2 Berlin WelcomeCard packages!
- Osnabrück: A medieval town in a German valley – the hometown of my German husband!
One of those appointments that I managed to snag was that of meeting David O’Kelly – the Chief Executive Officer of SANDEMANs NEW Europe Walking Tours.
He was super professional and offered me a choice of any walking tour that I desired over a two month period, with absolutely no pressure to write about any of them. I chose walking tours in Madrid and Lisbon.
Thanks so much SANDEMANs NEW Europe Walking Tours!
I decided to go on the New Madrid Tapas Experience.
We had a bit of difficulty getting everything sorted as the special code that I needed to book it, wouldn’t work. Thankfully, David came to the rescue and personally called the Madrid City Manager to book us in, as their guests.
THE SANDEMANs NEW MADRID TAPAS EXPERIENCE!
The SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience walking tour is described as one of the best ways to discover the best tapas places in Madrid with local tapas connoisseurs, and the secrets of Spanish gastronomy!
Our tour started at 19:00 in front of the Tourist Information Office, at the quite popular Plaza Mayor Square.
There were a few other tours taking place at the same time such as the Spanish Inquisition Tour, but the Tapas Experience had the largest crowd of all. We must have been about 50-60 odd people divided into two groups – Spanish-speaking and the largest one – English-speaking. Our guide was Guille and even though the Spanish-speaking guide was Dani, made an effort to involve everyone who was in the group and together made an awesome team!
Most of us were there for one thing, and one thing only – Taaaaaapas!
WHAT ACTUALLY IS TAPAS?
Simply put, a tapa or tapas are a wide variety of food served as an appetizer or snack.
The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb “tapar,” meaning “to cover,” and also “on top of” or “a lid” and even to mean “small portion” and there are many stories, depending on which Spanish city you happen to be in lol!
One theory is that the tapas were slices of bread or meat which punters in taverns used to cover their glasses against dirt, dust, and fruit flies, between sips. The meat used to cover drinks was usually ham or chorizo, which were both very salty and activate thirst.
Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners created a variety of snacks to serve with alcohol, thus increasing their alcohol sales.
I like the story which states that King Alfonso XIII stopped by a famous tavern in Cádiz (Andalusian city), where he ordered a cup of wine. The waiter covered the glass with a slice of cured ham before offering it to the king, to protect the wine from the beach sand as Cádiz was a windy place, and he didn’t want to lose his head!
The king, after drinking the wine and eating the tapas, ordered another wine “with the cover,” and to this day, the law and thus tradition, continues!
There are different types of tapas and punters can order a wide range of tapas or combine them, to make a full meal.
Traditionally, the serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation, and it is customary for diners to stand and move about, while talking and eating!
THE FOOD WALKING TOUR
We started our walking tour at the Museo del Jamon.
We had actually dropped by the night before, but my husband – The Music Producer – was slightly over-whelmed by the crowds as it was quite late, and the merriment was in full swing, so it was nice to be in a crowd of our own lol!
We were offered drinks and a snack in a bun.
Followed by trays by cold cuts, sausages and a variety of cheese.
As far as tapas goes, there are the free tapas and the paid-for tapas. If you’re drinking ordinarily, the tapas is included and is 100% free. Don’t expect sophisticated luxury though!
What you’ll get in general, are olives, crisps or potato chips, mini buns, sliced sausages, ham or salami or cheese. And not all at the same time!
The more you drink, the more you are given. In fact, we liked the concept so much that we went back again on our own!
You do need to watch yourself and be assertive though, as the Museo del Jamon is teeming with locals and if you stand out as a tourist, the first thing that they plonk down is the menu, and no free goodies!
Once I had made it known that we knew what we were doing and that we weren’t “just tourists,” the real deal was given to us.
Back to the New Madrid Tapas Experience walking tour!
After spending some time at the Museo del Jamon, we then went to a local tapas bar and restaurant called Rosi La Loca Taberna.
As we were a large group we were given two long rows of tables so that we could mix and get to know each other. On my left side were a group of people from England in their late 50’s, and in front of me a group of people from Argentina in their late 20’s!
The Argentinians were great, and engaged “The Tall Young Gentleman” in a little bit of Spanish as that is his third (3rd) language at school. He’s bilingual and already fluent in both German and English!
He’s also very interested in Korean, but we’ll see!
We liked this place so much that we went back here again too!
At the Rosi La Loca Taberna, we were served jars of clear liquid, which we all thought was water.
But it wasn’t!
It was Gin and Tonic!
And the first time we knew of it was when “The Tall Young Gentleman” took a gulp of “icy water” and instantly spat it out, declaring that the “water” had gone off!!
After that, we had shared paella in iron skillets coupled with patatas bravas and Spanish croquettes.
Our last destination was at a tavern luckily, just a few feet from our own hotel! This tavern was called Taberna la Cristiana.
This time around, our tapas mates were a group of young people from Italy, Romania and Brazil on my left hand side, and the Brits and some Americans on my right hand side.
My memory’s a bit fuzzy here as I didn’t take my note-book!
We had another portion of paella with green spicy peppers, bowls of olives (yuk!) and slabs of baguette covered in plain Spanish cheese and a dollop of brown Spanish sauce!
And then came that extra Spanish tradition of pouring cider down from some sort of drinking bag!
Under normal circumstances, traditional Asturian Cider is used but for some reason, we had Spanish red wine!
Cider is extremely popular in Spain where cider-drinking is national pride and taken quite seriously.
At first, none of us knew how to use the “bagpipe.”
I didn’t get to taste Spanish cider this time around, but I’m told that it can only be found in certain parts of the country, and poured in a certain way, or collected in a glass, and drunk straight from the barrel!
Really dry sidra is served by a peculiar “throwing” method, where an expert escanciador (waiter) will pour the drink from a great height, splashing it onto the side of the glass to aerate it, giving it a mousse-like texture akin to champagne. These short measures should then be downed quickly.
Basically, it’s like standing on a tall chair and trying to pour cider into the mouth of a person who’s sitting down!
Let me tell you.
It takes a little skill, as every one of us ended up pouring red wine down our front.
I even had to tuck in a napkin, as wine had trickled all down my green wind-breaker!
Lots of fun!
Here’s the info:
DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND SPANISH?
These tour are in English AND Spanish! If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, just keep drinking!
WHAT DO I NEED?
A pair of good shoes, a rain-jacket in case it rains, a few Euros for extra drinks, and a huge smile!
This tour cost €16.00 and was well worth the price.
If you’re feeling particularly energetic, there’s a Majestic Madrid €12.00, a Spanish Inquisition Tour €12.00, a Pub Crawl €12.00 and if you’re really broke, down and out, or simply hung-over, free tours which cost €0.00!
Kids under 13 if accompanied by an adult, are able to join the paid tours and are free of charge. No children under 18 are accepted for any of the pub crawls in any country though!
WHERE & WHEN?
Every day. At 19:00.
The meeting point is in front of the Tourist Information Office at the Plaza Mayor.
The tour takes about 2-3 hours. We were a little tired after a day of travelling but if you’re up for it, you could hang-out with the tour-guide and other members of your tour group, and really make a night of it!
Absolutely worth it!
The idea of a food walking tour around a city is enormously appealing, and something that everyone should do. At least once. It also gives you confidence to move around on your own as you now know what to do, where to go, and how to get there.
For more information about this walking tour, please contact: SANDEMANs New Madrid Tapas Experience.
For more information about alternative ways of exploring Madrid, please contact: SANDEMANs NEW Madrid Tours.
WHAT IF A WALKING TOUR ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?
Keep reading my blog. There’s more to come!
This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary ticket, all opinions and the enticing tapas that I willingly quaffed, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you so for the rest of April, I will be writing about our adventures in Spain and Portugal.
April is going to be a lovely month.
Watch this space!
Have you been on a food walking tour? Have you been to Madrid? Do you like walking?
See you in Berlin.